Wednesday, August 1, 2012


This post contains spoilers

At the heart of Brave is the conflict between a wild daughter and her proper mother. When Merida (the daughter) decides that the life her mother has laid out for her isn’t the fate she wants for herself, she takes matters into her own hands. Fleeing from her fate, she ends up visiting the local witch, where she receives a cake that will change her mother’s mind about the upcoming betrothal.

The cake transforms much more than her mother’s mind, it turns her into a bear!

What follows is a race to undo the spell before it becomes permanent. Various complications inevitably ensue, including Merida’s brothers (triplets) also eating the enchanted cake, the witch going on a trip, and her father (who hunts bears with a Ahab-like devotion) thinking that a bear ate his wife, plus the 3 clans that arrived to fight for Merida’s hand.

Combined with all of the story elements are the stunning visuals of a fantastic 10th century Scotland, complete with a demonic bear, standing stones, and will o’ wisps. Wonderful and evocative character design and voice acting bring all of the film’s personalities to life.

Brave was almost everything that you can expect from a Pixar film; a solid story, beautiful animation, good acting all wrapped up in under 2 hours. It isn’t one of Pixar’s best, but even Pixar’s worst is still heads and shoulders above most everyone elses best.

For Your Game:
Merida wanted a spell from the witch. The witch gave her what she asked for, but not like she expected. As a DM you need to do the same thing with your players! Give them what they want... and then some!

If you show your players a cool location, come back to it, and have stuff happen there!

It’s ok to make NPC’s real characters! Play with stereotypes. Use them, twist them, subvert them, and sometimes play it straight. Merida’s dad Fergus was played pretty straight, but he still was a blast to watch.

Consequences happen. Sometimes that means a cart full of bear wood carvings show up at the castle gate.


  1. I loved the wood-carving witch. She was the highlight of the movie for me. While I enjoyed it, I was a little disappointed with the story - it was a little too predictable to me. I admit that part of this is because I hold Pixar to a high standard. If they'd have marketed this as just a Disney film I would have been raving about it.

    1. Totally. The most game-able element of Brave is the idea of a witch that thinks their one bizarre gimmick is a universally applicable solution to whatever problem the players bring to them.